3 Steps To Help Prevent Workplace Fires This Winter

preventing workplace fires

Snow, ice and cold weather aren’t the only hazards that are present in winter months. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), fire is the culprit behind almost 40 percent of all industrial property loss, and is the highest cause of commercial property damage. Fire departments in the U.S. responded to an estimated average of 37,910 fires at industrial or manufacturing properties, with $1.2 billion in direct property damage. With industrial fires causing such an issue what steps can be taken to prevent workplace fires? 

Don’t Let Combustibles Accumulate

Many manufacturing and production companies create large amounts of dust during the manufacturing process, which is often just considered a nuisance and not cleaned thoroughly. These dusts can cause an explosion hazard however, even when they come from materials that are usually not flammable, such as aluminum.

Even if basic housekeeping is performed in the facility this dust can remain airborne or collect on high surfaces, which allows for a combustible dust cloud to form. There have been multiple huge industrial explosions caused by these dust clouds igniting, and OSHA now looks for and gives citations for these dust accumulations. Having this dust professionally cleaned with explosion proof equipment is the only safe and approved way to prevent workplace fires.

Check For and Fix Damaged Electronics

Damaged or defective electronics cause a significant number of fires in commercial and industrial buildings, and in most cases the fire could have been prevented. Almost every building and company uses electrical equipment, which means every company has the risk of a fire starting from electrical sources.

If the wire is loose or frayed, or has been cut or damaged during use it should be fixed or disposed of correctly. It cannot just be wrapped in electrical tape and forgotten about; it should be completely fixed before it creates a problem. If the plug is broken or loose, or sparks when it is plugged in, there is an issue that needs to be addressed. All it takes is one stray spark or a hot wire against something combustible to start a fire.

Dispose of Cigarettes Safely

Workers tossing a cigarette butt that wasn’t completely extinguished causes countless fires throughout the United States each year. The cigarette will appear out, but can continue to have smoldering ashes that will ignite anything combustible they are near.

It is important for a business to create a smoking policy and enforce it, as well as provide designated smoking areas with proper disposal bins to prevent the possibility of cigarettes coming in contact with anything flammable.

Don’t Let Winter Create New Issues

On top of those issues, workers can inadvertently bring new fire hazards into a building. Workers might bring in decorative lights to create a comforting work environment. However, bulbs can get worn throughout the years, and if left on continuously they can get hot enough to ignite a fuel source. Not to mention, workers will often use space heaters to fend off the cold during the winter season. Unfortunatly, heating equipment can create a huge fire hazard when they are left unattended.

With the addition of these lights and heaters, outlets might suddenly become overloaded, or extension cords will be used, which brings electrical hazards into areas that didn’t previously have one. It is important that policies about these winter additions are created and followed, and that lights and heaters are turned off when not in use.

To schedule industrial cleaning services for your facility, email Hughes Environmental or call: 888.845.3952.